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  1. Abstract

    Sulfate-reducing bacteriaCandidatusDesulforudis audaxviator (CDA) were originally discovered in deep fracture fluids accessed via South African gold mines and have since been found in geographically widespread deep subsurface locations. In order to constrain models for subsurface microbial evolution, we compared CDA genomes from Africa, North America and Eurasia using single cell genomics. Unexpectedly, 126 partial single amplified genomes from the three continents, a complete genome from of an isolate from Eurasia, and metagenome-assembled genomes from Africa and Eurasia shared >99.2% average nucleotide identity, low frequency of SNP’s, and near-perfectly conserved prophages and CRISPRs. Our analyses reject sample cross-contamination, recent natural dispersal, and unusually strong purifying selection as likely explanations for these unexpected results. We therefore conclude that the analyzed CDA populations underwent only minimal evolution since their physical separation, potentially as far back as the breakup of Pangea between 165 and 55 Ma ago. High-fidelity DNA replication and repair mechanisms are the most plausible explanation for the highly conserved genome of CDA. CDA presents a stark contrast to the current model organisms in microbial evolutionary studies, which often develop adaptive traits over far shorter periods of time.

  2. Abstract

    Our current knowledge of host–virus interactions in biofilms is limited to computational predictions based on laboratory experiments with a small number of cultured bacteria. However, natural biofilms are diverse and chiefly composed of uncultured bacteria and archaea with no viral infection patterns and lifestyle predictions described to date. Herein, we predict the first DNA sequence-based host–virus interactions in a natural biofilm. Using single-cell genomics and metagenomics applied to a hot spring mat of the Cone Pool in Mono County, California, we provide insights into virus–host range, lifestyle and distribution across different mat layers. Thirty-four out of 130 single cells contained at least one viral contig (26%), which, together with the metagenome-assembled genomes, resulted in detection of 59 viruses linked to 34 host species. Analysis of single-cell amplification kinetics revealed a lack of active viral replication on the single-cell level. These findings were further supported by mapping metagenomic reads from different mat layers to the obtained host–virus pairs, which indicated a low copy number of viral genomes compared to their hosts. Lastly, the metagenomic data revealed high layer specificity of viruses, suggesting limited diffusion to other mat layers. Taken together, these observations indicate that in low mobility environments with highmore »microbial abundance, lysogeny is the predominant viral lifestyle, in line with the previously proposed “Piggyback-the-Winner” theory.

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  3. Abstract With advances in DNA sequencing and miniaturized molecular biology workflows, rapid and affordable sequencing of single-cell genomes has become a reality. Compared to 16S rRNA gene surveys and shotgun metagenomics, large-scale application of single-cell genomics to whole microbial communities provides an integrated snapshot of community composition and function, directly links mobile elements to their hosts, and enables analysis of population heterogeneity of the dominant community members. To that end, we sequenced nearly 500 single-cell genomes from a low diversity hot spring sediment sample from Dewar Creek, British Columbia, and compared this approach to 16S rRNA gene amplicon and shotgun metagenomics applied to the same sample. We found that the broad taxonomic profiles were similar across the three sequencing approaches, though several lineages were missing from the 16S rRNA gene amplicon dataset, likely the result of primer mismatches. At the functional level, we detected a large array of mobile genetic elements present in the single-cell genomes but absent from the corresponding same species metagenome-assembled genomes. Moreover, we performed a single-cell population genomic analysis of the three most abundant community members, revealing differences in population structure based on mutation and recombination profiles. While the average pairwise nucleotide identities were similar acrossmore »the dominant species-level lineages, we observed differences in the extent of recombination between these dominant populations. Most intriguingly, the creek’s Hydrogenobacter sp . population appeared to be so recombinogenic that it more closely resembled a sexual species than a clonally evolving microbe. Together, this work demonstrates that a randomized single-cell approach can be useful for the exploration of previously uncultivated microbes from community composition to population structure.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  4. Kuo, Chih-Horng (Ed.)
    Laboratory mice are widely studied as models of mammalian biology, including the microbiota. However, much of the taxonomic and functional diversity of the mouse gut microbiome is missed in current metagenomic studies, because genome databases have not achieved a balanced representation of the diverse members of this ecosystem. Towards solving this problem, we used flow cytometry and low-coverage sequencing to capture the genomes of 764 single cells from the stool of three laboratory mice. From these, we generated 298 high-coverage microbial genome assemblies, which we annotated for open reading frames and phylogenetic placement. These genomes increase the gene catalog and phylogenetic breadth of the mouse microbiota, adding 135 novel species with the greatest increase in diversity to the Muribaculaceae and Bacteroidaceae families. This new diversity also improves the read mapping rate, taxonomic classifier performance, and gene detection rate of mouse stool metagenomes. The novel microbial functions revealed through our single-cell genomes highlight previously invisible pathways that may be important for life in the murine gastrointestinal tract.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 13, 2023
  5. Phosphonates are organophosphorus metabolites with a characteristic C-P bond. They are ubiquitous in the marine environment, their degradation broadly supports ecosystem productivity, and they are key components of the marine phosphorus (P) cycle. However, the microbial producers that sustain the large oceanic inventory of phosphonates as well as the physiological and ecological roles of phosphonates are enigmatic. Here, we show that phosphonate synthesis genes are rare but widely distributed among diverse bacteria and archaea, including Prochlorococcus and SAR11, the two major groups of bacteria in the ocean. In addition, we show that Prochlorococcus can allocate over 40% of its total cellular P-quota toward phosphonate production. However, we find no evidence that Prochlorococcus uses phosphonates for surplus P storage, and nearly all producer genomes lack the genes necessary to degrade and assimilate phosphonates. Instead, we postulate that phosphonates are associated with cell-surface glycoproteins, suggesting that phosphonates mediate ecological interactions between the cell and its surrounding environment. Our findings indicate that the oligotrophic surface ocean phosphonate pool is sustained by a relatively small fraction of the bacterioplankton cells allocating a significant portion of their P quotas toward secondary metabolism and away from growth and reproduction.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 15, 2023
  6. Photosymbioses, intimate interactions between photosynthetic algal symbionts and heterotrophic hosts, are well known in invertebrate and protist systems. Vertebrate animals are an exception where photosynthetic microorganisms are not often considered part of the normal vertebrate microbiome, with a few exceptions in amphibian eggs. Here, we review the breadth of vertebrate diversity and explore where algae have taken hold in vertebrate fur, on vertebrate surfaces, in vertebrate tissues, and within vertebrate cells. We find that algae have myriad partnerships with vertebrate animals, from fishes to mammals, and that those symbioses range from apparent mutualisms to commensalisms to parasitisms. The exception in vertebrates, compared with other groups of eukaryotes, is that intracellular mutualisms and commensalisms with algae or other microbes are notably rare. We currently have no clear cell-in-cell (endosymbiotic) examples of a trophic mutualism in any vertebrate, while there is a broad diversity of such interactions in invertebrate animals and protists. This functional divergence in vertebrate symbioses may be related to vertebrate physiology or a byproduct of our adaptive immune system. Overall, we see that diverse algae are part of the vertebrate microbiome, broadly, with numerous symbiotic interactions occurring across all vertebrate and many algal clades. These interactions are being studiedmore »for their ecological, organismal, and cellular implications. This synthesis of vertebrate–algal associations may prove useful for the development of novel therapeutics: pairing algae with medical devices, tissue cultures, and artificial ecto- and endosymbioses.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 28, 2023
  7. Fluids circulating through oceanic crust play important roles in global biogeochemical cycling mediated by their microbial inhabitants, but studying these sites is challenged by sampling logistics and low biomass. Borehole observatories installed at the North Pond study site on the western flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge have enabled investigation of the microbial biosphere in cold, oxygenated basaltic oceanic crust. Here we test a methodology that applies redox-sensitive fluorescent molecules for flow cytometric sorting of cells for single cell genomic sequencing from small volumes of low biomass (approximately 10 3 cells ml –1 ) crustal fluid. We compare the resulting genomic data to a recently published paired metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analysis from the same site. Even with low coverage genome sequencing, sorting cells from less than one milliliter of crustal fluid results in similar interpretation of dominant taxa and functional profiles as compared to ‘omics analysis that typically filter orders of magnitude more fluid volume. The diverse community dominated by Gammaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Desulfobacterota, Alphaproteobacteria, and Zetaproteobacteria, had evidence of autotrophy and heterotrophy, a variety of nitrogen and sulfur cycling metabolisms, and motility. Together, results indicate fluorescence activated cell sorting methodology is a powerful addition to the toolbox for the study ofmore »low biomass systems or at sites where only small sample volumes are available for analysis.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 24, 2023
  8. Abstract Background The Spacecraft Assembly Facility (SAF) at the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is the primary cleanroom facility used in the construction of some of the planetary protection (PP)-sensitive missions developed by NASA, including the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover that launched in July 2020. SAF floor samples ( n =98) were collected, over a 6-month period in 2016 prior to the construction of the Mars rover subsystems, to better understand the temporal and spatial distribution of bacterial populations (total, viable, cultivable, and spore) in this unique cleanroom. Results Cleanroom samples were examined for total (living and dead) and viable (living only) microbial populations using molecular approaches and cultured isolates employing the traditional NASA standard spore assay (NSA), which predominantly isolated spores. The 130 NSA isolates were represented by 16 bacterial genera, of which 97% were identified as spore-formers via Sanger sequencing. The most spatially abundant isolate was Bacillus subtilis , and the most temporally abundant spore-former was Virgibacillus panthothenticus . The 16S rRNA gene-targeted amplicon sequencing detected 51 additional genera not found in the NSA method. The amplicon sequencing of the samples treated with propidium monoazide (PMA), which would differentiate between viable and dead organisms, revealed a total of 54more »genera: 46 viable non-spore forming genera and 8 viable spore forming genera in these samples. The microbial diversity generated by the amplicon sequencing corresponded to ~86% non-spore-formers and ~14% spore-formers. The most common spatially distributed genera were Sphinigobium , Geobacillus , and Bacillus whereas temporally distributed common genera were Acinetobacter , Geobacilllus , and Bacillus . Single-cell genomics detected 6 genera in the sample analyzed, with the most prominent being Acinetobacter. Conclusion This study clearly established that detecting spores via NSA does not provide a complete assessment for the cleanliness of spacecraft-associated environments since it failed to detect several PP-relevant genera that were only recovered via molecular methods. This highlights the importance of a methodological paradigm shift to appropriately monitor bioburden in cleanrooms for not only the aeronautical industry but also for pharmaceutical, medical industries, etc., and the need to employ molecular sequencing to complement traditional culture-based assays.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  9. Hydrogenotrophic methanogens are ubiquitous chemoautotrophic archaea inhabiting globally distributed deep-sea hydrothermal vent ecosystems and associated subseafloor niches within the rocky subseafloor, yet little is known about how they adapt and diversify in these habitats. To determine genomic variation and selection pressure within methanogenic populations at vents, we examined five Methanothermococcus single cell amplified genomes (SAGs) in conjunction with 15 metagenomes and 10 metatranscriptomes from venting fluids at two geochemically distinct hydrothermal vent fields on the Mid-Cayman Rise in the Caribbean Sea. We observed that some Methanothermococcus lineages and their transcripts were more abundant than others in individual vent sites, indicating differential fitness among lineages. The relative abundances of lineages represented by SAGs in each of the samples matched phylogenetic relationships based on single-copy universal genes, and genes related to nitrogen fixation and the CRISPR/Cas immune system were among those differentiating the clades. Lineages possessing these genes were less abundant than those missing that genomic region. Overall, patterns in nucleotide variation indicated that the population dynamics of Methanothermococcus were not governed by clonal expansions or selective sweeps, at least in the habitats and sampling times included in this study. Together, our results show that although specific lineages of Methanothermococcus co-exist inmore »these habitats, some outcompete others, and possession of accessory metabolic functions does not necessarily provide a fitness advantage in these habitats in all conditions. This work highlights the power of combining single-cell, metagenomic, and metatranscriptomic datasets to determine how evolution shapes microbial abundance and diversity in hydrothermal vent ecosystems.« less
  10. Twisted stalks are morphologically unique bacterial extracellular organo-metallic structures containing Fe(III) oxyhydroxides that are produced by microaerophilic Fe(II)-oxidizers belonging to the Betaproteobacteria and Zetaproteobacteria. Understanding the underlying genetic and physiological mechanisms of stalk formation is of great interest based on their potential as novel biogenic nanomaterials and their relevance as putative biomarkers for microbial Fe(II) oxidation on ancient Earth. Despite the recognition of these special biominerals for over 150 years, the genetic foundation for the stalk phenotype has remained unresolved. Here we present a candidate gene cluster for the biosynthesis and secretion of the stalk organic matrix that we identified with a trait-based analyses of a pan-genome comprising 16 Zetaproteobacteria isolate genomes. The “ s talk f ormation in Z etaproteobacteria” (sfz) cluster comprises six genes ( sfz1-sfz6 ), of which sfz1 and sfz2 were predicted with functions in exopolysaccharide synthesis, regulation, and export, sfz4 and sfz6 with functions in cell wall synthesis manipulation and carbohydrate hydrolysis, and sfz3 and sfz5 with unknown functions. The stalk-forming Betaproteobacteria Ferriphaselus R-1 and OYT-1, as well as dread-forming Zetaproteobacteria Mariprofundus aestuarium CP-5 and Mariprofundus ferrinatatus CP-8 contain distant sfz gene homologs, whereas stalk-less Zetaproteobacteria and Betaproteobacteria lack the entire gene cluster. Our pan-genomemore »analysis further revealed a significant enrichment of clusters of orthologous groups (COGs) across all Zetaproteobacteria isolate genomes that are associated with the regulation of a switch between sessile and motile growth controlled by the intracellular signaling molecule c-di-GMP. Potential interactions between stalk-former unique transcription factor genes, sfz genes, and c-di-GMP point toward a c-di-GMP regulated surface attachment function of stalks during sessile growth.« less